Menopause is described as a condition rather than a disease. It is frequently referred to as a “Woman’s Issue.” Few, if any woman would admit anticipating its onset, although most women are aware of its unavoidable arrival. Beginning between the ages of 40 and 55 years, (and even as early as the 30’s for some women), the activity of the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to decrease. This might occur slowly, in a natural expected sequence, or suddenly if the ovaries are surgically removed. As the body attempts to adjust to the fall in the hormonal levels, the menopausal woman begins to experience several emotional symptoms.
Irritability has been described as one of the most frequently occurring emotional symptoms of menopause. Several descriptions have been used to describe the symptom and with various degrees of severity. These include being short or bad-tempered, cross, or on edge; and being mildly, moderately or severely ill-tempered. Further, family and friends and affected women describe the behavior as becoming angry or upset for every-little-thing.
Women, who are mildly and moderately affected, described it as annoying. At this level, it is mostly obvious to themselves and some close family or friends. On the other hand, it is quite evident to everyone when women are severely affected. At this stage, the woman is so cross and quick tempered, that the symptoms are described as emotionally challenging and embarrassing; if not overwhelming and draining.
The short-tempered behavior occurs in the female during menopause due to a combination of occurrences. These include, but are not limited to (a) the biological effects of a lowered level of estrogen and progesterone which occur due to the ovaries receiving less stimulation from the growth hormones (b) surgical removal of the ovaries, mostly due to a disease. In either case, whether the loss occurred naturally or surgically, the emotional self feels the loss and will try to regulate itself to the change.
For example, as the woman’s emotional-self attempts to cope with the hormonal imbalance by making her extra alert to every thing. She feels so irritable that she often has trouble sleeping. The insomnia leads to tiredness and difficulty dealing with stress. This becomes a sleepless-tired-stress-irritable cycle, which, unless the problem is identified and practical measures taken to break the cycle, the woman can become overwhelmed.
Natural Menopause and Premature Menopause
Short-temper is also experienced by the woman who mourns the loss of her ability to reproduce. This occurs for most women and especially women who lost their ovaries unexpectedly. To help minimize the sudden onset of menopause, whenever possible, many surgeons will avoid removing both ovaries. If one ovum is left in place, it can continue to produce enough estrogen and progesterone that can help to prevent the rapid onset of menopause. This allows the woman to progress naturally to menopause when her body is matured and more ready for the change.
For women who must have the uterus removed, it is important to discuss with your gynecologist the possibility of leaving the ovaries in place, if at all possible. Women who are able to keep their ovaries intact can continue to enjoy a satisfactory level of well-being of not having to deal with premature menopause. Women, who do not have the option of keeping their ovaries intact, should discuss all available alternative options and treatments with the gynecologist prior to surgery.
How to Manage Irritability During Menopause?
Whether the woman is feeling severely cross because of premature or naturally occurring menopause, she may find the symptom overwhelming, and might consider the following practices that have been reported to be helpful by women who have had similar experiences.
Food and nutrition: Soya products for example, milk, beans, tofu. Tofu, for example have been used steamed, stir fried, and in stews.
Rest, exercise, relaxation and massages: While an after dinner walk before bed time has been proven beneficial, late naps close to bed times should be avoided. Late naps tend to interfere with a good night sleep, and so does vigorous exercise before bed time.
On the other hand, relaxing or winding down before bed time, have been used to encourage a good night sleep. For example, reading pages of a romantic novel or poetry, and listening to soft music. Some women have also reported feeling more calm after resting in a quiet place and taking 10-20 deep breaths periodically. For example, thinking on pleasant and positive thoughts while breathing in, and exhaling negative thoughts.
A warm bath and/or a slow back rub have had similar effects. Soaking the feet for 5-10 minutes in warm water followed by a foot massage have also been quite soothing (test water temperature with elbow before sub merging feet – if water feels too warm for your elbow, add cold water until it is comfortable). Further, some women have benefited from the use of Herbals and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), of which, several varieties are on the market.
Menopausal women experience varying levels of being ill-tempered as the emotional self attempts to adjust to the fall off of estrogen and progesterone. In trying to seek relief, for persistent or severe irritability, the woman may be inclined to try unusual foods, exercises, or medications. Whether over the counter medications or other substances are tried, medical approval is encouraged prior to engaging in unfamiliar practice(s).